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Showing posts from December 7, 2003
Drive-In Movie Double Feature #71 (Sinister Cinema). [Category: Commercial]This collection of drive-in ephemera is probably the most food-oriented of the series. There are lots of really short snack bar promos advertising a single item, and a wide array of treats, including more obscure ones such as snow cones and hot tamales. And it's the most nutritious, too (see the Nutrition Alert below)!
Highlights:
Nutrition Alert! This drive-in has more "nutritious" and/or "healthful" items than ever: ice cream is "healthful", popcorn is "nutritious and "healthful", and two promos claim the entire snack bar line is "nutritious"!
Prissy Fearless Fred says "I forgot my Toddy!"
Get your "satisfaction" fix with more hot coffee.
A genuinely amusing parody of movie trailer hyperbole used to advertise snacks: "Torrid Hot Dogs!! Action-Packed Popcorn!! Sizzling French Fries!!"

Ratings: Camp/Humor Value: ***. Weirdne…
Annual Parade, New York Fire Department (film #3 in America at Work, America at Leisure: Motion Pictures from 1894-1915. Also, in the Historical section of Open Video Project). [Category: Early Film & TV]First we get to see the backs of the bigwigs as they ascend the steps of the reviewing stand. Then we see row after row of firemen marching in various formations. Then we see lots of different horse-drawn fire wagons, including elaborate hook-and-ladders and huge steam pumpers. These are the highlight of the film for my money. There are also a few trucks in the mix, but they are vastly outnumbered by the horse-drawn wagons. It ends with the marching band, which we can’t hear because this is a silent film. If you want to get a good look at turn-of-the-century fire wagons, then this is your movie. A 1904 Edison film.
Ratings: Camp/Humor Value: **. Weirdness: **. Historical Interest: ****. Overall Rating: ***.
Sheba Wore No Nylons (film #4 on Exploitation Mini-Classics, Vol. 2 (Sinister Cinema)). [Category: Sleaze & Outsider]A brief male sexual fantasy set to music, featuring fake belly dancing, strange facial expressions, and a big fat bearded guy who looks like a Cossack in a Russian fantasy movie. Did this turn anybody on?
Ratings: Camp/Humor Value: ***. Weirdness: ****. Historical Interest: ****. Overall Rating: ***.
Bufferin II(film #13 in the Commercials section of Movieflix (www.movieflix.com)). [Category: Commercial]Another fun Bufferin commercial, this one featuring a guy getting beat over the head with a drumstick, as well as the usual cutaway diagrams of the stomach. Maybe not quite as much fun as the first Bufferin commercial, but it will still bring a smile to your face.
Ratings: Camp/Humor Value: ****. Weirdness: ****. Historical Interest: ****. Overall Rating: ****.
Gags and Gals (film #579 on Prelinger Archive). [Category: Sleaze & Outsider]This exercise in female objectification is actually a lot of fun. There are three soundies here. The first, “Male Order,” features women a guy can purchase on approval, who arrive in shipping cartons and dance in his living room. The second, “At Your Service,” is all about how women, specifically carhops at drive-ins, live to serve men, even to the point of wearing skimpy uniforms and dancing on car hoods so that the male customers can look up their dresses. The third soundie, “Playmates,” features grown women dressed up and acting like little girls, while singing the familiar playground song. The titillating quality of this gets pretty creepy after awhile, even though it’s obvious that these are grown women, especially when they bend way over to peek into rain barrels, so we can get a good look at their undies. Again, these soundies are appalling, but still lively and a great deal of fun. “At Your Servic…
Amelia Earhart (film #4 in the 100 Years of Flight section of WPA Film Library). [Category: News]Newsreel footage of Amelia Earhart, part silent, part with sound. In the sound portion, her gender is emphasized repeatedly; she accepts this with style and good humor. An interesting clip from the history of flight.
Ratings: Camp/Humor Value: *. Weirdness: *. Historical Interest: ****. Overall Rating: ***.
Bay of Pigs Fiasco (film #6 in the Cuban History section of WPA Film Library). [Category: Military & Propaganda]American newsreel clip announcing the Bay of Pigs Invasion. This was before the government officially admitted any responsibility for it, so it is reported as an invasion of “Cuban rebels,” and Adlai Stevenson categorically denies everything. That gives it quite a bit of historical interest.
Ratings: Camp/Humor Value: *. Weirdness: *. Historical Interest: ****. Overall Rating: ***.
Behind the Lens (in the Ephemeral section of Open Video Project. Also, film #202 on Prelinger Archive). [Category: Industrial]This film starts out pretty interesting, as it shows us and tells us about special scientific kinds of motion picture photography, such as time-lapse photography and slow-motion photography. But since it is a Jam Handy Chevrolet film, it has to get around to cars eventually, and when it does, showing us how special photography is used by Chevrolet engineers to understand how cars withstand bumps in the road, it gets rather boring. Fortunately, though, it’s a short film, and that means the boring part is short, too.
Ratings: Camp/Humor Value: **. Weirdness: ***. Historical Interest: ***. Overall Rating: ***.
Hollywood Dinosaur Chronicles (Rhino, 1990). [Category: Outtakes & Obscurities]This documentary about dinosaurs in the movies is a lot like Dinosaurs! in many ways, though shorter, pared-down, and not nearly as much fun. There's not nearly as much here to interest ephemera buffs, and most of what there is can be found on Dinosaurs! (though mystery fans will want to check out a brief clip of Sir Arthur Conan Doyle talking about The Lost World––it's the only time I've seen him on film).
Ratings: Camp/Humor Value: **. Weirdness:**. Historical Interest: ***. Overall Rating: **.
The City of Little Men (recorded off of Turner Classic Movies). [Category: Public Service]Sentimental 30s film about Boys Town and the good work it does rehabilitating homeless boys. The beginning is a real tear-jerker, as a scruffy little boy and his dog show up on Father Flannigan’s doorstep and beg admission to Boys Town. The rest of the film gives a detailed portrait of the boy’s home in the 30s, and thus has quite a bit of historical interest. Father Flannigan himself appears in the film, which increases its historical interest. Of course, the portrait is idealized, as this was obviously designed to solicit contributions. Still, the story of Boys Town is pretty interesting and this film tells it pretty well.
Ratings: Camp/Humor Value: ***. Weirdness: **. Historical Interest: ****. Overall Rating: ***.
Big Brass Ring (film #9 on Short 2: Dream (QuickBand Networks, 2000)). [Category: Outtakes & Obscurities]This is a scene from an Orson Welles script about a political candidate’s working relationship with a legendary expert adviser in the Democratic party who is also openly gay. In the scene, the elderly political adviser is interviewed by a tabloid reporter. This was basically made in order to sell a feature film project and it shows. I don’t think the scene really stands alone as a short. The story is so involved that without the proper context, it’s impossible to figure out what the characters are talking about. What you’re left with are rather typical Hollywood characters trying very hard to look cool and sophisticated. The political adviser seems to speak in witty, quotable turns of phrase, while the young, attractive, female reporter behaves flirtatiously, even though there is no reason for her character to do so. Again, with the enough context to be able to follow the story…
Annual Baby Parade, 1904, Asbury Park, NJ (in the Historical section of Open Video Project). [Category: Early Film & TV]The beginning of this all-kids parade looks a little bit like other parade footage from this period, only in miniature, with tiny cops and soldiers in uniform. Then there’s a long stretch of very overdressed baby carriages. Actually, this is pretty fun to look at. It’s a wonderful little slice of life from another time. A 1904 Edison film.
Ratings: Camp/Humor Value: ***. Weirdness: ****. Historical Interest: ****. Overall Rating: ****.
Bufferin (film #12 in the Commercial section of Movieflix (www.movieflix.com)). [Category: Commercial]This classic 50s commercial features not only those essential cutaway diagrams of stomachs, but a very painful image of a guy’s head being used as the clapper of a bell. Yeah, that would give one a headache, I would think. Lots of fun.
Ratings: Camp/Humor Value: ****. Weirdness: ****. Historical Interest: ****. Overall Rating: ****.
Fighten Femmes of France (film #510 on Prelinger Archive). [Category: Sleaze & Outsider]Two women in their underwear have a very poorly-acted catfight in this vintage stag film. Eventually, they both end up falling between the bed and the wall, ridiculously enough. This doesn’t seem like it appealed even to its intended audience, though perhaps their standards were low.
Ratings: Camp/Humor Value: ***. Weirdness: ***. Historical Interest: ***. Overall Rating: **.
City of Hope (film #324 on Prelinger Archive). [Category: Public Service]This very bombastically-narrated 30s film tells us all about the City of Hope, a huge tuberculosis sanatorium. It brings back the days when TB was a dread disease that baffled doctors and whose treatment usually involved long months of convalescence at a sanatorium in a remote area with “fresh air.” Such sanatoriums bit the dust when antibiotics were invented that cured TB. It’s a fascinating little piece of history, though, making this film pretty interesting. The bombastic narration makes it unintentionally funny in spots, especially the scene where the first sanatorium, which was literally a couple of tents, blows over in a windstorm. Mostly, though, this is about the many families and organizations who gave sizable donations to the City of Hope and had buildings named after them. Of course, it’s designed to get audience members to give till it hurts, as the narrator keeps reiterating that there is a long wait…
The Birth of Juvenile Delinquency (film #4 on Teenage Confidential (Rhino, 1987)). [Category: Military & Propaganda]Like As the Twig Is Bent, this film does a lot of hand-wringing about the effects of the war on our nation's youth. And like the other film, though it gives lip service to social factors such as working mothers and families moving away to find defense jobs, it basically places the blame for delinquency on the shoulders of parents. It does seem a little less self-serving than the other film, though. Watch for Johnny from Boy in Court show up in a brief cameo appearance. Also, watch for a scene that shows you what teenage stoners looked like back in the 40s.
Ratings: Camp/Humor Value: ***. Weirdness: **. Historical Interest: ****. Overall Rating: ***.
Beside Me (film #12 in the Indie section of Movieflix (www.movieflix.com)). [Category: Outtakes & Obscurities]This longer Indie film tracks the relationships of two college-age couples. Caleb, a real love-‘em-and-leave-‘em women-are-sex-objects type, has lots of sex with Willow, a party gal who stupidly doesn’t bother with birth control. He thinks it’s all just about sex until Willow gets pregnant, then he surprises himself by wanting to be a responsible father. His roommate, Trenton, a religious wait-until-marriage type, meanwhile, gets involved with Jacquelle, a woman who was sexually abused as a child and has major issues with men. I’m not sure what I think about this film, frankly. It’s actually a lot better than it sounds, but there are parts of it that are excruciatingly bad. While other parts seem like they should be bad, but aren’t. I guess there’s a real sincerity here that shines through all the stupid stuff that at least partially won me over. I do get the feeling that …
Apollo, Segment 3001 (in the Documentary section of Open Video Project). [Category: News]This is a clip from an “Aeronautics and Space Report,� announcing the Apollo 13 mission. This has historical interest as it is interesting to see the pre-launch perspectives on the ill-fated mission. The person who digitized this clip should be shot, though. The opening credits suddenly stop (with the sound that you get when you suddenly stop a record player’s motor and it slows to a stop) and then start up again from the beginning, reminding one of the repeated credit sequences in Monty Python’s “The Bishop.� And somehow the clackety-clack sound of the film projector was recorded on the soundtrack! This really brings back the old days of 16mm films and incompetent projectionists.
Ratings: Camp/Humor Value: ***. Weirdness: ***. Historical Interest: ****. Overall Rating: ***.
Behind the Freedom Curtain. Made by a manufacturer of voting machines, this film tries to convince us that voting machines are so much better and fairer than old-fashioned pencil-and-paper voting, mostly by constantly repeating that machines can’t make the mistakes people do. Ah, if it were only that simple, we wouldn’t have had that mess in the 2000 election. Actually, this is pretty well made and makes its points well, though it does tend to go on and on and on. It gives an interesting perspective on the problems of running elections, problems that still exist today. Its pontificating about “democracy” gets so overblown it’s campy in spots. But mostly this is pretty straightforward.
Ratings: Camp/Humor Value: ***. Weirdness: ***. Historical Interest: ****. Overall Rating: ***.
Freedom Highway (in the Ephemeral section of Open Video Project. Also, film #2 on Our Secret Century, Vol. 6: The Uncharted Landscape CD-ROM (Voyager)). Also, film #561 on Prelinger Archive. [Category: Industrial]This very 50s film features a group of nice 50s people who travel across the country from San Francisco to Washington, D.C. on a Greyhound bus. Instead of becoming totally exhausted and stressed-out by this cross-country bus trip (you weren't expecting reality, were you?), they all become quite chummy and some even find a sort of patriotic salvation in "seeing the country". Featured are Tommy Kirk as a Boy Scout who utters "gee whiz!" at everything, Angie Dickenson and football star Bob Roberts who fall in love during the trip and decide to get married right away (I'd like to see her explain that to her parents!), and Tex Ritter who drops by to sing a song about the Alamo. Spoilsport Morris Ankrum plays an embittered man whose only son was killed i…
Animal Act (in the Historical section of Open Video Project). [Category: Early Film & TV]This is, as promised, an animal act, featuring a violin-playing baboon, a rope-jumping dog, and a mule that refuses to be mounted. This is really a great deal of fun, especially considering that you don’t run across such acts today. The baboon, in particular, is quite talented and fun to watch. A fun slice of early-20th-century entertainment. A 1919 Hans A. Spanute film.
Ratings: Camp/Humor Value: ***. Weirdness: ****. Historical Interest: ****. Overall Rating: ****.
Bruce Lee We Miss You (film #27 in the Trailers section of Movieflix (www.movieflix.com)). [Category: Commercial]More chop-socky action as Bruce beats up a bunch of Buddhist monks (I thought those guys were supposed to be pacifists) and lots of other people. Periodically, an old bearded monk looks on and smiles. I guess I’m not enlightened enough to get this.
Ratings: Camp/Humor Value: ***. Weirdness: ***. Historical Interest: ***. Overall Rating: **.
Bergen, Norway, etc. (film #96 on Prelinger Archive). [Category: Outtakes & Obscurities]Silent home movie footage from the 30s of a family touring Europe, particularly the Scandinavian countries and Russia. Despite the title cards, this has the true home movie feel, with shaking, ever-changing camera angles and seemingly random choice of subject matter. It does give you an idea of what it was like to tour pre-war Europe, especially Russia, which was hard to get into at that time. It drags after a bit, though.
Ratings: Camp/Humor Value: **. Weirdness: **. Historical Interest: ****. Overall Rating: ***.
The Case of the Screaming Bishop (film #12 on Sherlock Holmes: The Early Years (Hollywood's Attic, 1996)). [Category: Hollywood]This very silly cartoon features Hairlock Combs, his assistant Garson, a leering, laughing, pretty disturbing maniac, and lots of silly British accents. It walks a fine line between being weird and being lame, and it never quite goes one way or the other. It's not really very funny in the ways that it's trying to be funny, but it's weird, and even campy, in ways that are unintentional. This makes it an interesting oddity.
Ratings: Camp/Humor Value: ****. Weirdness: ****. Historical Interest: ****. Overall Rating: ****.
The Expose of the Nudist Racket (extra on The Beast That Killed Women/The Monster of Camp Sunshine DVD (Something Weird, 2001)). [Category: Sleaze & Outsider]Cheeky (in more ways than one) 30s short about nudism, in which the narrator rather sassily promotes its benefits while we see the usual footage of nudists frolicking in a nudist camp. This would be innocent fun, except that the narrator keeps ruining things by missing no opportunity to ridicule a fat woman, all while claiming that nudists accept all body types. That, and some of the rather “busty” camera angles, make this more of an exploitation piece than a serious discussion of the acceptability of nudism.
Ratings: Camp/Humor Value: ***. Weirdness: ***. Historical Interest: ****. Overall Rating: ***.
Apa Tani Bleeding Tubes (in the Educational section of Open Video Project). [Category: Public Service]Silent footage of Asian native peoples performing some sort of bizarre ritual involving sucking blood out of tubes. Lots of natives are shown with tubes sticking out all over their bodies, including their faces. Since I don’t know the context of this, it’s pretty disturbing, though I’m sure the natives themselves thought of it as mundane. I don’t know if this practice is still being done today, but if it isn’t, this is a valuable historical record of it.
Ratings: Camp/Humor Value: N/A. Weirdness: ****. Historical Interest: ****. Overall Rating: ****.
Apollo, Segment 1003 (in the Documentary section of Open Video Project). [Category: News]Another clip from a pre-Apollo 11 documentary, probably the same one as in 1002. What the astronauts intend to do on the moon is described, over footage of the astronauts training on a simulated lunar landscape. Also, footage taken by unmanned lunar spacecraft is shown. Another mildly interesting bit of historical footage.
Ratings: Camp/Humor Value: *. Weirdness: **. Historical Interest: ***. Overall Rating: **.
Behind the Bright Lights (in the Ephemeral section of Open Video Project. Also, film #199 on Prelinger Archive). [Category: Industrial]This 30s film tells us how the huge lighted Chevrolet sign in New York City worked, including the part where letters crawl by spelling various advertising messages. It’s actually pretty interesting and well explained. Of course, I love old signs anyway so this is just up my alley.
Ratings: Camp/Humor Value: **. Weirdness: ***. Historical Interest: ****. Overall Rating: ****.